Normally when I decide to go out on a walk I venture to my location, get my supplies, lock up the car and head out. There usually isn’t anything that would draw much attention to the fact that I am slowly making my way through all the streets in Lansing, Michigan. Today’s walk however, was not like any walk I’ve done so far. Today’s walk had police and fire truck escorts. There was a crowd of about 150 fellow walkers including the mayor and his wife. Some were using megaphones to shout out to the crowd. There were a few media folks flitting through the walkers taking photos and doing interviews. My walk today was with the Lansing Stop the Silence/ Walk for P.E.A.C.E. march. The group started at Wainwright Elementary School and marched through the streets to Wexford Montessori Magnet School. Many of them held hands as we walked. Some needed to be consoled at times since a large part of the group were relatives of a victim of violence. Through their heartbreak they united to promote the stop of the violence.
I never really set out on this project to stop violence. However there were two things that happened the summer before I earnestly and ultimately began City Saunter. The first was the gruesome murder of a young woman in a mostly quiet neighborhood. Last summer in July a nineteen year old woman was dragged out of her home, thrown into a trunk and shot with semi automatic guns. Her screams, at first not noticeable, eventually became so urgent that people came to witness her shooting and also the perpetrators who ran away, leaving her to die in the trunk.
The second was much less dramatic but really was the impetus for City Saunter. A wonderful couple that I have the great pleasure of being friends with had a home in Lansing. They were having measurable trouble with loud neighbors, vandalism, and theft. During a chat I told them that I wish I could just walk up and down their street to stave off the unwanted behavior. From there the idea continued to grow and seek out its own destination until I became the City Saunterer, walking all the streets of Lansing. I wanted to make Lansing better by showing people how great Lansing really is. I wanted to show the good things that are there. I wanted to change any misperceptions that Lansing is a violent, unsafe city. I have been through many neighborhoods in my 112 miles of walking. A very large percentage of those are well established, well maintained and visibly loved. Some are not. There is still crimes being committed, but what I’ve found is the struggling neighborhoods have a strong community of people working deep within to bring hope and resources to those in need. Just like those that partook of today’s walk, there are groups just like them all over Lansing. Together we can truly make a difference.
“The whole gang gathered,
Feeling glorious and proud,
And they swam in a circle
As they sang out loud;
‘The ocean is wide,
And the ocean is deep,
But friends help friends-
That’s a promise we keep.’
We are bigger, Yes, BIGGER, Always big. BIG. BIGGER Than the dark!”
The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark
By Deborah Diesen
Recently I was made aware of a campaign to recognize a global day of ceasefire and violence. It is called Peace One Day. The hope is to get word out and on this September 21 start a 365 day count down to the first global Peace One Day celebration. I will be putting some type of walking event together soon to participate in this year’s Peace One Day. Please keep in touch with my Facebook page as I solidify my plans. If you would like to hold your own Peace One Day celebration I would love to hear about what you have planned.
Check out all my photos from this walk on my City Saunter Facebook Page.